The Environmental and Personnel Benefits of Digitalization

Feb. 29, 2024
With environmental benefits and personnel efficiencies in mind, ground handler Acciona worked with INFORM to digitalize its resource allocation processes.

Throughout the world, companies are employing ESG strategies to enhance their businesses.

Originally used as a philosophy for finance and investing, ESG – or environmental, social and governance – initiatives have expanded into a structure that evaluates a company’s business practices.

Among other goals, ESG programs aim to enhance sustainability practices, create positive working environments with employees, customers and communities, and guide corporate governance procedures.

With lofty environmental targets on the horizon and safety as a top priority, the aviation industry – including the ground support equipment and ground handling markets – is taking action to employ ESG programs in various ways.

In an effort to uphold its own standards for customer service, company officials with ground service provider Acciona identified its manual processes for resource utilization were no longer adequate.

As a provider of ramp and cargo services and passenger handling in Europe and the Americas, using manual processes for day-to-day operations like comparing planned staff resources versus used resources; generating staff rosters; checking the status of flights; contacting airfield operators; and retrieving historical data was time-consuming and challenging.

Acciona, with environmental benefits and personnel efficiencies in mind, set out to digitalize its resource allocation processes.

“Using INFORM’s GroundStar Software Suite, Acciona has been able to optimize the utilization of its resources, which has helped them achieve resource optimization goals – part of their ESG initiatives,” explain company officials at INFORM. “GroundStar helped them achieve improved planning, faster rescheduling and efficient resource and task allocation. In addition to attaining ESG results, GroundStar helped them achieve a digital transformation.

“In addition, since ground handling safety events can have serious and expensive consequences, involving injuries and even deaths, causing operational delays as well as damage to aircraft and equipment, it was key to have GroundStar in place to help ensure that ground operation activities were always to be performed safely,” INFORM officials continue.

Acciona first implemented the GroundStar Software Suite at Santiago de Chile Airport and successfully digitalized operational processes for planning and managing both staff and GSE. The software has allowed for improved resource usage and productivity, fleet reduction and the identification of potential disturbances.

“Acciona has benefited not only in the digitalization area, but has also contributed to improving resource usage, a key ESG goal,” INFORM officials note. “Potential disturbances can now be identified in advance, giving room to look for a better response plan.

“Additionally, due to the multi-station feature of GroundStar Software Suite, Acciona was able to extend its network in Chile to 14 airports in record time by modeling the existing implementation in Santiago.”

Applying optimization algorithms, Acciona managers create automatically optimal staff shift demands and GSE requirements for day-of operations. These tasks are performed seamlessly, even if flights schedules are disrupted.

“GroundStar also generates optimized ground handling and passenger services staff rosters that were made available on a staff portal for easy access by employees using their mobile devices,” INFORM officials say.

Given the scale of Acciona’s digital transformation and ESG goals, one challenge that had to be overcome was helping ground staff become comfortable with the new technologies. Demonstrating use cases at other locations helped motivate Acciona personnel to adopt the solution.

For example, replacing manual Microsoft Excel spreadsheet processes and voice/radio communications benefited the company and its employees.

“Staff efficiency has been significantly enhanced because they can now be notified of important status updates such as receiving confirmations on the beginning or ending of tasks. They can retrieve information to support operations and/or to analyze a station’s performance once the operation is completed,” INFORM officials explain. “All of these capabilities help Acciona achieve great optimization and better performance, which greatly supports ESG initiatives.”